Small encyclopedia with Indian instruments
The text is taken from an excerpt of Suneera Kasliwal, Classical Musical Instruments, Delhi 2001


In Hindustani music, the swarmandala is used as an accompaniment to vocal music. Vocalists keep the instrument in their laps and only pluck those particular strings which are samvadi to the swaras sung. The strings are tuned to the swaras of the raga which is being sung by the artist. The strings are plucked by means of a wire plectrum worn on the index finger of the right hand, while some artists prefer playing it with bare finger also.

The number of strings tied into it are not fixed. They can vary between twenty-one to thirty-six. The range of this instrument is about two-and-a -half octaves. When we start from the lower octave to upper octave, the thickness of the strings gradually decreases as also the length.


Swarmandala in our catalogue

In the modern swarmandala, strings are tied with the nails and pass through a box type of resonator. Across the plank these strings are tied with more nails acting as pegs, which can be tightened or loosened by a small hammer-shaped tuner.

In some swarmandalas beads are put in each string to facilitate fine tuning. The total length of the swarmandala is about one- and-a-half to two feet and the width is about one to one-and- a-half feet. The depth of the soundbox is about three to four inches.